Here is how we merged the perspectives of entrepreneurs, investors, academics, corporates, governments to connect startup ecosystems in Asia and Berlin at AsiaBerlin Summit 2020 (21- 27 September).
The year 2020 was a time of many firsts for us and our AsiaBerlin community. We consolidated all our activities under the umbrella brand “AsiaBerlin,” and the annual conference was renamed from Asia-Pacific Week Berlin to AsiaBerlin Summit. We organized our first hybrid AsiaBerlin Summit with a substantial online presence of speakers and an audience from Asia and Europe. This year, we also opened doors to an exclusive investor conference on the third day of the Summit with venture capitalists, family offices & business angels from Asia and Germany.
It is hard to capture the excitement of over 1500 attendees, five days, 175 speakers, 50 + panels/keynotes, nine stages with just one perspective. Hence, we will let it flow through our speaker’s and audience’s words- and some numbers. Our participates engaged in over 3600 chat messages on our online networking tool Brella, and there were around 4300 communications just to arrange one-on-one meetings. The engagement rates were more than expected, with users logging in every day to interact, almost double compared to last year.
The main essence of the overall sentiment was well captured in the opening speech of Ramona Pop, Berlin Mayor and Senator for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises. She says:
“2020 is the year that turned our plans upside down. A year that once again showed us how interconnected our world is in addition to other tragedies that broke out this year. It shows one thing, how we as a strong community can emerge from a crisis, and how important the mutual exchange in overcoming a crisis is. This crisis acts like an accelerator for digitalization, the way we work together, and how we communicate. I am therefore pleased to be able to welcome everyone at Asia Berlin Summit, one of the rare physical meetings this year connecting Asia to Europe. This event is a great signal — we will go on! “
The AsiaBerlin Summit focuses on the internationalization of startups across sectors such as: UrbanTech, HealthTech, FinTech, Social Impact, Female Entrepreneurship & Diversity, industry 4.0, AI, or blockchain. The main theme across all panels and keynotes was to talk about new trends and cross-border collaboration between Asia and Berlin.
Besides expert panels and keynotes by investors and startups on the first three days — we had an Embassy Day program planned in partnership with various embassies of Asian countries complemented by cultural programs as well as satellite events during the Summit
Cedrik Neike, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens and CEO Smart Infrastructure stresses the relevance of Asia as an opportunity to Europe:
“Three things are changing the world radically- Technology, the business model behind it and Asia. 60% of the world population is living in Asia. It’s young, it wants to grow, and we need to bring Europe and Asia together to help each other. The Asia Berlin Summit is perfect for that. Because even in times of COVID, we have to come closer together to help each other rather than being apart.”
Sebastian Pollok, Managing Partner Visionaries club talks why Berlin is the place to be to expanse into Europe:
“Berlin has lots of talent from all over the world- both in the B2B and B2C space. This holds true for Germany, and also Europe — we really have manufacturing and industrial companies as the lifeblood of our economies, we believe that there’s so much potential for B2B to be the next wave of disruption in startups. That’s why I think Berlin is a great place to come to if you are owning and starting a company.”
Stefani Lu, a consultant for expanion into China talks about her experiences in Berlin and connection to Asia,
“I was not afraid of Berlin because I see the government is doing a lot of things to connect with China. I got a lot of help, and connections here. I think for China, if you have the right connector and you know the right person — you shouldn’t be afraid of it because we’re trying to facilitate everything we know about China to help you with the business.”
Volker Hofmann, CEO Humboldt-Innovation GmbH summaries why AsiaBerlin Summit is relevant to him:
“Coming from the academic startup ecosystem in Berlin, AsiaBerlin Summit was the perfect place to build a network for our internationalisation program. With “Bridge to China” we enable young science-based startups to decode the Chinese Market and get a full understanding of its opportunities and its risks. AsiaBerlin Summit really helped us finding the right partners and mentors who want to join us on that journey.”
One of the highlights of the Summit was the closing keynote by Naren Shaam, CEO and Founder, Omio GmbH, where he taked about his journey of becoming a unicorn entrepreneur in the city as a foreigner.
“If you have the drive and the persistence to build a business, it will all fall in place. The Berlin ecosystem is diverse; we have people from 52 nationalities and 40% women in the team. I don’t think the challenges that were there seven years ago in Berlin exist anymore. If you’re thinking of moving to Berlin and building a business — I would be very strongly supportive of it as a fantastic ecosystem. You stand on the backbone of strong German infrastructure, stable government, good health care systems for families. I would encourage startup founders to think of Berlin as a startup ecosystem.” he concludes on an encouraging note.
Here is a list of resources and articles on AsiaBerlin Summit 2020: